Like an entomological Armie Hammer?
They say cockroaches will inherit the earth. However, it’s a wonder they reproduce at all: Japanese researchers revealed that these household pests have a penchant for biting their mate’s wings while getting jiggy with it.
“Within mating pairs of a wood‐feeding cockroach, males and females eat the mate’s wings . . . which is the first ‘mutual’ case in these behaviors,” said Haruka Osaki and Eiiti Kasuya from Kyushu University’s Department of Biology. They authored the kinky study, which was published in the science journal Ethology.
Osaki first stumbled upon the consensual cannibalism while collecting the wood-eating roaches — which are dark and glossy and grow up to an inch long — in the wild as a biology student. She noticed that their wings looked like they may have been “chewed.”
In order to decipher the bizarre bug bites, the research gathered young adult cockroaches from Yona Field in Okinawa, Japan, and put them in lab containers, creating 24 couples. She then videotaped their behavior over four days.
Osaki found that half of the pairs engaged in wing-eating. Specifically, one roach would mount its mate and start chewing on their flying appendages before they would switch positions so the other could have a nibble.
And while some of the munched-on bugs would shudder violently, prompting their paramour to take a break from their ghoulish meal, a majority didn’t seem to mind having their wings clipped.
This makes the species the first-known practitioners of mutual sexual cannibalism, which differs from most iterations in which the dominant partner kills the other. Perhaps the most infamous example of intraspecies snacking is female praying mantises devouring their hubby’s head mid-coitus in order to increase the potential for offspring.
Scientists haven’t nailed down why exactly cockroaches de-wing each other during sex. However, unlike mantises, these kitchen pillagers likely don’t gnaw for sustenance — as the sexperiment’s subjects engaged in the practice even when “sufficient food was provided,” per the study.
Researchers postulate that wing-removal helps prevent the adults from being encumbered by unnecessary appendages, especially as the wings are magnets for mites and mold.
Not to mention that losing their wings frees up the monogamous species to invest more in caring for their progeny.
It would appear that marriage literally keeps them grounded.
“Mutual wing‐eating may be an example of true cooperation and may help explain some interactions between females and males from a new viewpoint,” said Osaki of the findings.
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